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Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo Booth Part 2


We had such a blast at our last photo booth, we're doing it again!

If you live, work or travel on Monticello Road, please stop by our informal photo booth (part 2) on Thursday November 10, from about 8 to 11 am. We will set up outside the Bridge PAI (weather permitting), take an informal portrait, and give you a free print.

It's fun and it's social and an easy way to take part in a community-based art project.

The Bridge is located across the street from Spudnuts at 209 Monticello Road.

Hope to see you there!


Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Different Currency

San Angelo (For Renate) Charcoal on painted masonite, 16x30” 2011.

I find that almost everyone wants art for their home but for all that, most people seem reluctant to spend real money on it. I’ve been searching a long time for ways to change their minds about that but words and ridiculously low prices don’t seem to do the trick as well as I would like.

I don’t think it’s about the art: it’s about the money. What would happen if we take cash out of the equation? In a healthy community, we should be able to reward and support one another without passing greenbacks back and forth.

I’ve always been a big fan of the barter economy and it presents opportunities that are easily overlooked. In this case, my friends Renate and Bill wanted art for their new home, but construction costs did not exactly leave them flush with cash.

I practically live on bread and almond butter and Renate is the best baker I know, so it seemed like an opportunity. I have tons of art and it does no good in my studio and Renate bakes every few weeks: it’s no problem for her to add an extra load for me. I get a loaf every few weeks.

How do we calculate value of bread versus art?

Let us assume that we’re all equal and our time is worth equally much. Then it’s simple. I just kept track of my hours—in this case it was about thirty. Renate will consider the added time that I’m costing her make me appropriately many loaves. As for expenses, she uses fancy ingredients, so the expenses match up pretty well and actually are likely to be a little higher on her end, so she won’t need to spend 30 hours kneading and mixing.

So I’m eating better than I would and the new piece will look great in their house. The thing that pleases me most is the gifts that we are each giving each other. I think about Renate at the breakfast table and my drawing will hang next to hers.

This is an exchange we can both celebrate.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Free Photos Here

Just getting this photo of Melissa made the visit worthwhile but we accomplished much, much more.
More Photos.


In the latest step in our People of Monticello Road project, we set up an impromptu photo booth at a neighborhood café (La Taza), to try to catch as many passers by as possible. We had a portable photo printer and gave on-the-spot prints to anyone who agreed to have their picture taken.

Our larger purpose is to get art and artist out into the community and this was the fullest expression of that notion to date. We were out in the public, talking to them and making art in a way that was very transparent, in a space that was very comfortable—free from many of art’s usual barriers. There were many discussions, and much learned by all—and we managed to get some great pictures. That was no coincidence: the art came from those discussions.

We were operating without a script in uncharted territory so we didn’t really know what to expect. Because we were new at this, or shy, or whatever, we really limited ourselves to those individuals who entered the café patio and did not flag down as many random passers-by from the sidewalk as we had planned. Now that I see the importance of the interpersonal interactions and shared experience—even if just a love of java—I'm not disappointed. It’s as difficult to conjure a portrait from nothing as it would be to start a conversation from absolute scratch and then you have to wonder about the quality.

Indeed, although the whole thing was fun, the best and most useful images were from those most invested in the café: the owners and staff, who have really been champions of the project. That really validates the notion that great portraiture arises from familiarity, and the more the artist and community invest in one another, the better the results for all.

Huge thanks to Melissa and Vanessa at La Taza for letting us use their patio, and to Preston Jackson and Sarah Derr who assisted on the project.

View the Photos


Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People

Monday, October 3, 2011

Photo Booth


Kate and Chloe toast the first whiff of Spring


Do you live/work/play/travel along Monticello Road? Stop by La Taza Tuesday morning (8-10 or so) our informal and impromptu photo booth. Get your picture taken, add your image to our archive of the People of Monticello Road, and take home a free print.

It’s an easy way to join a community-based art project and it’s free.


La Taza is located in Downtown Belmont at 407 Monticello Road

Monticello Road is a photography and story-telling project about the people and places along a mile-long byway that is simultaneously humble and historic, home to many and a reflection of us all. There will be an exhibition and much more in the Spring of 2012.

Project Description | More Photos: Places | People